Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, has announced payment of
over €52 million to more than 10,000 forest owners, most
of whom are farmers.
This is the annual forestry premium payment under the forestry
programme of the Department.
Announcing the forestry payments, Minister of State Wallace
said that this money was hugely important to farmers and rural
communities. She encouraged other farmers to avail of what
is a most attractive forestry incentive package. This includes
a guaranteed tax-free income for up to 20 years, an additional
REPS payment for qualifying REPS farmers and the cash crop
of the timber at thinning and final harvest.
"Premiums are a welcome and valuable
annual source of income, the take from the sale of the timber
crop should not be overlooked. The price for thinnings and
timber has increased significantly and demand is growing all
the time" - the Minister said.
"Thinning your plantation is the way to maximise the
return. In the short term, it is providing a cash crop for
stake wood or wood-energy use. In the longer term it is reopening
the canopy that will assist in optimising the return from
your plantation at final harvest."
Minister Wallace underlined the importance of active
management of the forest throughout its life and reminded
forest-owners that the real return from forestry only begins
when the premium ends.
The Minister also referred to the need to complete
a management plan for 10 year-old plantations over a certain
size. "The purpose of the
management plan is to provide information to the owner and
to my Department about a plantation. As well as setting out
future management operations for the owner, the data collected
is of use for inventory and planning purposes" - the
A once-off contribution of €300 is being paid
to forest-owners who have submitted a Management Plan and
is included with the forestry premium payment.
The need for alternative and secure sources of energy to
imported fossil fuels is becoming increasingly apparent. Wood
biomass in its many forms is already playing a significant
part as an alternative indigenous energy supply. Wood biomass
will, undoubtedly, make an important contribution to Ireland
achieving the challenging emission targets that have been
set by the EU.
The Minister concluded - "Forestry
is an important national resource as it is the basis of significant
economic, environmental and social benefits. This Government
is providing a comprehensive suite of supports to the forestry
programme to ensure the country capitalises on the sector's
The purpose of the annual forest premium is to compensate
the plantation owner for loss in income earning potential,
due to the long-term commitment of afforestation of the land.
The premium is payable for 20 years in the case of farmers
and 15 years for other forestry owners. The level of premium
payable is higher in the case of farmers.
The annual premium rates vary from €240.94 to €599.26
per hectare, depending on the type of trees planted. Broadleaf
species planted carry a higher premium payment.